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Full text of "My Country And My People"

WOMAN'S  LIFE                    149

but she is in love with man, and being in love with man she
is in love with life. That makes her work a little more neatly
at her embroidery and imagine she is in love with the rainbow-
coloured embroidery itself, as symbolizing life, which seems to
her so beautiful. Very probably she is embroidering the design
of a pair of mandarin ducks for someone's pillow, those man-
darin ducks which always go together, swim together, nest
together in pairs, one male, the other female. If she stretches
her imagination too much, she is liable to forget herself and
make a wrong stitch. She tries again, but it goes wrong again.
She pulls hard at the silken thread, a little too hard, and it
slips out of the needle. She bites her lips and feels annoyed. She
is in love.

That feeling of annoyance at a vague unknown something,
perhaps at spring and the flowers, that sudden overwhelming
sense of loneliness in the world, is nature's sign of a girPs
maturity for love and marriage. With the repressions of society
and social conventions, a girl did her best to cover up this
vague and strong yearning, but subconsciously youth dreamed
on. Yet pre-marital love was a forbidden fruit in old China,
open courtship was impossible, and she knew that to love was to
suffer. For that reason, she dared not let her thoughts dwell
too fondly on the spring and the flowers and the butterflies,
which are symbols of love in ancient poetry, and if she were
educated, she would not allow herself to spend too much time
on poetry, lest her emotions be touched,too profoundly. She
kept herself busy with her home duties and guarded her feelings
as sacredly as a delicate flower preserves itself from premature
contact with the butterflies. She wished to wait until the time
should come when love would be lawful and sanctified by
marriage, and happy was she who escaped all entanglements of
passion. Yet nature sometimes conquered in spite of all human
restraints. For like all forbidden fruits, the keenness of sexual
attraction was enhanced by its rarity. It was nature's law of
compensation. Once a girl's heart was distracted, according
to the Chinese theory, love stopped at nothing. That was
actually the common belief back of the careful seclusion of
women.

Even in her deepest seclusion every girl generally learned